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Calling for Collaboration: Putting the voice of youth at the centre to help solve the school to work transition


A new RBC white paper reveals recent grads in Canada are focused on solutions for transitioning to the workforce but they are calling for more support


TORONTO, December 8, 2016 -  A new whitepaper, Addressing the Catch 22: RBC Career Launch Applicants Recommendations for Improving School-to-Work Transitions, published by RBC in partnership with the Canadian Career Development Foundation reveals that recent grads in Canada want to be part of the solution but they are calling for more support and collaboration from business, schools and government to help them reach their full potential as they transition from school to work.

RBC is committed to listening to the concerns of young people, continuing this important conversation and delivering on our commitment to helping clients thrive and communities prosper.

According to the study based on more than 1,350 applications randomly selected from the approximately 5,800 that RBC has received since the start of the Career Launch Program, 99 per cent of the new grads said they had a least one prior work experience and 93 per cent said they had at least one volunteer experience.

Yet they still felt caught in the Catch-22 – known as the ‘no experience, no job cycle’. They said they aren’t being hired because they lack relevant work experience, and they lack relevant work experience because no organization will hire them. They report doing what they can to prepare to enter the labour market, but that they can’t change the hiring practices of employers.

They called for solutions that focus on:

  • Collaboration – More collaboration among business, schools, governments and young people to address and support transitions from education to employment
  • Increased work experience opportunities – Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and pre and post graduate work experience as well as other entry level roles
  • Better Connections – Connecting with those already in the labour market – employers, workers, and professional associations

“This unique study puts the voice of these young people at the centre of the school-to-work transition conversation,” says Donnalee Bell, lead researcher and managing director, Canadian Career Development Foundation. “New grads in this study are sending a very clear message – they want solutions. The time is now to work together to figure out how to address this challenge with viable solutions that involve all stakeholders, including young people. We need to make changes that result in young people being better prepared for work.”

The young people who were a part of this study also called for greater career education and transition supports including mandatory career education in public and post-secondary schools as well as greater awareness and connection to the skill demands and trends in the labour market. They identified student debt as being a restrictive burden that impacts their employment choices. They also said debt creates competitive disadvantages such as the acceptance of underemployment for the sake of a paycheque.

“Young Canadians face challenges as they transition from school to work. We know that education, training and work experience are pivotal in a young person’s life – setting the stage for future success and that’s good for all of us,” says Zabeen Hirji, chief human resources officer, RBC. “I’m inspired by the solution-oriented mindset of the young people who were the focus of our study. We believe young people have a significant stake in shaping our future and know they have the ambition to do so.”

At RBC, we believe by helping young people unlock their potential and launch their careers, we can assist them with building a stronger future for themselves, and a more prosperous Canada.

“We are bringing forward the voice of youth in this research as a way of stimulating very important conversations about the future of young people,” says Susan Uchida, vice-president, learning, RBC. “We need to engage them, delve deeper into both their shared and individual experiences and keep asking them the question – What is transitioning from school to work really like, and how could it be better?”

The young people in this study were not sitting back expecting others to solve these challenges. They talked of the role of youth and advised their peers to:

  • Get “experienced”
  • Stay positive
  • Be resilient
  • Keep your expectations in check and be open minded about opportunities

Click here to read: Addressing the Catch 22: RBC Career Launch Applicants Recommendations for Improving School-to-Work Transitions..

About the Study
The Canadian Career Development Foundation was commissioned by RBC to conduct an analysis of applications to its Career Launch Program for the first three years of its operation. The research within the report is based on more than 1,350 applications randomly selected from the approximately 5,800 applications submitted during the three years that the RBC Career Launch Program has been accepting new graduates into paid internship positions.

The applications received from recent post-secondary graduates (24 years old or younger) provided data on applicants’ education, work and volunteer history and, in the essay portion of the application, their perspectives on what can be done to improve school-to-work transitions in Canada.

About RBC
Royal Bank of Canada is Canada’s largest bank, and one of the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We are one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies, and provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management, insurance, investor services and capital markets products and services on a global basis. We have over 80,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 16 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 36 other countries. For more information, please visit‎

RBC helps communities prosper, supporting a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. For more information please see:

About RBC Career Launch
The RBC Career Launch Program is a year-long career experience for college and university graduates aged 24 and under across Canada. The program is a unique internship opportunity designed to help address the “no experience-no job” cycle many youth face upon post-secondary graduation. It combines practical hands-on business and community experience with learning, mentorship and professional networking opportunities. For more information, please visit

About CCDF
The Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF) is an internationally renowned centre of excellence and innovation in the field of career development. Established as a non-profit charitable organization in 1980, CCDF has targeted expertise in career development policy, research, resource development and capacity building, and is committed to ensuring Canadians of all ages are better prepared to navigate an uncertain labour market and develop their careers across the lifespan. For more on the work of CCDF, please visit

For this project, CCDF was pleased to work with its associate organization, the Life-Role Development Group Ltd., a national career development consultancy.

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For more information, please contact:
Elynn Wareham, RBC Communications, 416-313-5778